Come autocrats or invaders, the Russian capital endures.
Moscow does not inspire indifference: You either love it or hate it. In the 18th century, Catherine the Great called it the “seat of sloth” and complained that the city was “full of symbols of fanaticism, churches . . . and convents, side by side with thieves and brigands.” Konstantin Batyushkov, a 19th-century poet, praised Moscow as “marvelous, outrageous, gigantic.” Leo Tolstoy fell into both camps, describing it as “a collection of robbers,” yet writing in War and Peace that “every Russian looking at Moscow feels her to be a mother.”
In City Journal,Paul...